Alta. beef checkoff stays refundable

Alberta Beef Producers says changes may be needed to continue to effectively run the organization with lower revenue

Of 1,874 votes cast, 51.3 percent of Alberta beef producers have voted to keep a refundable checkoff.

The province-wide plebiscite, in which approximately 18,000 producers were eligible to vote, also saw 48.5 percent vote to make the checkoff non-refundable, while 0.2 percent were spoiled ballots.

Preliminary results were announced Dec. 3 at the Alberta Beef Producers annual meeting in Calgary.

The voters’ decision is final, said ABP chair Charlie Christie.

“While it is close, it is within the parameters of being a decisive vote. We would have liked to have seen more turnout but the message was definitely sent,” he said.

“We don’t have to talk about funding anymore other than count the pennies. This discussion is behind us,” he said.

Changes may be needed to continue to effectively run the organization and work for the beef industry in the future, he said.

Voter turnout was not high according to figures released by the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council. Producers cast 1,874 votes in the six-week voting period: 962 voted in favour of a refundable service charge and 908 favoured a nonrefundable service charge model. Four ballots were spoiled.

A $4.50 levy is collected on every animal sold with $2.50 submitted to the national checkoff agency to support Canada Beef, the Beef Cattle Research Council and issues management while the rest of the money remains with Alberta Beef Producers. The ABP 2018 budget was $5.3 million and for every $2 collected, 53 cents per animal sold is paid to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association while the remainder stays in Alberta.

Working with the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association, a proposal was developed to split money with the cattle feeders and create a separate $1.4 million industry development program to support research and marketing.

The refundable checkoff created budget challenges for ABP since its inception because the number and amount of refunds fluctuate. The 2018 ABP financial report indicates $2.5 million was refunded in 2017. Of that, about $273,000 was refunded at the request of cow-calf producers and $2.2 million at the request of feedlots.

ABP manager Rich Smith said the future of the proposed Beef Industry Development Fund is unknown because there is no money to fund it. 

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